It is hard to spend any time at Cornell without hearing about the various sustainability efforts around campus. Dan Miller ’78, a Cornell engineering alumnus, gave a presentation in Phillips Hall yesterday, “A Really Inconvenient Truth” to highlight the reasons why focusing on global climate change deserves to be a top priority at Cornell.
Miller is co-founder and managing director of a venture capital group called The Roda Group. He is also the former president of Ask Jeeves and a member of Al Gore’s Climate Project.
This is the first part of a series delving deeper into the economic crisis and its effects on higher education, particularly at Cornell.
In the past few weeks, members of the Cornell community have received a plethora of information about how Cornell is dealing with the current economic crisis. Like Cornell, many institutions of higher education have created innovative plans to support their missions while managing their budgets.
Cornell recently released a report detailing the impact of the Lake Source Cooling project on Cayuga Lake. The report concluded that since its implementation in 1999, LSC has not had a detrimental effect on the lake, despite criticism that the project is a major source of pollution for the lake.
LSC works by bringing cold water from the depths of the Cayuga Lake up to the surface where it is used to cool water that runs through the air conditioning systems of Cornell and Ithaca High School. The water is then discharged back into the lake at its surface.
“The discharge contains soluble reactive phosphorus at two to five times the level that is in the shallow lake water,” said Walter Hang, owner of Toxics Targeting, Inc. “This promotes the growth of choking blooms of algae.”
Sit in any lecture hall during the fall and spring months and you will inevitably hear someone cough or sneeze at least every five minutes. People plagued with allergies during these seasons see them simply as nuisances, but a study conducted by Cornell researchers revealed that allergies may actually help fight some cancers.
The recent economic turmoil has already gotten a lot of college seniors thinking about their job options, but recent statistics show that they might need to think harder. The National Association of Colleges and Employers conducted a survey in August of 219 employers that projected a 6.1-percent increase in hiring for the class of 2009. NACE conducted the same survey again this month, and 146 of the original 219 employers responded, revealing that the projected outlook had dropped to a 1.3-percent increase.
According to Edwin Koc, NACE’s director of strategic and foundation research, the organization decided to conduct the survey again because of the recent chaos in the stock market and the credit crunch.
With issues surrounding the E. coli outbreak in 2006 from spinach, contaminated tomatoes this past summer and the toxic milk in China, food safety has garnered increased attention and Cornell researchers have been called to the line of duty.
Cornell has received a $1.6 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to study food safety, and is one of around 20 universities to receive part of a $13.8 million grant. The USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service annually awards grants to fund research that allows science based, practical findings to be shared amongst the food industry and consumers.
“I consider myself to be the liberal media,” said Eric Alterman ’82, media critic for The Nation, in his speech yesterday about media bias in the 2008 presidential election. In his speech, Alterman tried to convince his audience that the media is not as biased in the Democratic Party’s favor as people tend to think. More specifically, he asserted, the media is not biased in favor of presidential nominee Barack Obama.
Alterman began with a brief definition of what the media is. “Media,” he said, is a plural noun because it encompasses so many different sources.
“When most people talk about the media, what they mean is the elite national media,” Alterman said.
Computer science and environmental sustainability are not often associated with each other. But the new Institute for Computational Sustainability at Cornell hopes to change that, with the help of $10 million from the National Science Foundation.
According to Prof. David Shmoys, operations research and information engineering, associate director of the institute, the center came into existence under the NSF’s “Expeditions in Computing” program. Upwards of 100 proposals were submitted to the NSF by different institutions. The NSF then narrowed the proposals down to four finalists, each of which was awarded a $10 million grant.
In response to the passing of the Graduate Community Initiative, members of the Cornell Graduate and Professional Student Assembly visited the Geneva Experiment Station — about an hour southeast of Ithaca — in August to unite the graduate student community. Confusion surfaced, however, when students in attendance expressed concern about Cornell’s Student Health Insurance Plan, which many believed required those on the plan to travel all the way to the Gannett Health Center in Ithaca to receive health care.
A study conducted at Cornell by the D.E. Bauman research group revealed that dairy cows that receive Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (rbST) have a higher milk efficiency, which in turn lowers their carbon footprints. RbST is an FDA approved artificial growth hormone that allows cows to more efficiently use nutrients so that fewer cows are required to produce the same amount of milk.
“On an individual cow basis we get eight percent less manure, less feed, less land, less water [when supplemented with rbST]. We get less methane, nitrogen and phosphorus coming out of the cow,” said Judith Capper, animal science, the lead author of the study. “The cows give an extra 10 ounces of milk.”